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"Problem with paint over soft plastic figures" Topic

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Nick Stern Supporting Member of TMP18 Jan 2021 1:10 p.m. PST

I sprayed some Powhattan Indian 54mm figures made by Safari Toobz with a coat of Rust-oleum Painters Touch Extra Cover Paint and Primer. 24 hours later the figures are still tacky. The weather was and is dry, around 60 degrees. By contrast, some A Call To Arms Zulus that I sprayed at the same time are dry and ready to paint. The Safari figures are noticeably softer plastic so I figure that must have something to do with it. Has anyone had the some experience? Will the Safari figures ever dry? Can I coat them with with a sealer and continue or will I need to strip off the paint with Simple Green and start again?

paul liddle18 Jan 2021 2:33 p.m. PST

I made the same mistake when I spray primed and painted a toy mammoth 20+ years ago and it has only recently lost it's tackiness.

La Belle Ruffian18 Jan 2021 2:43 p.m. PST

Would painting liquid gesso be useful Nick? I find it gives a nice matt finish.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP18 Jan 2021 4:23 p.m. PST

Well, too late now, but try not to use any spray primer on soft plastic which doesn't specifically say it's good for that. I usually brush on a mix of PVC glue and acrylic paint.

If you still have a pilot light somewhere, I've had some luck with leaving miniatures whose paint stayed tacky on the stove over the pilot light overnight. Those were metals, so I'd do plastics in daytime and check frequently.

raylev318 Jan 2021 4:52 p.m. PST

Did you wash them first with dish soap and warm water? It makes a huge difference.

Nick Stern Supporting Member of TMP18 Jan 2021 6:29 p.m. PST

Thanks for the suggestions! I did wash the figures in dish soap but I did not leave them to soak overnight as I sometimes do. I now have it on good authority that the figures I painted are made of nylon and will never dry. At least the ACTA Zulus I primed are ready to paint.

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP18 Jan 2021 7:08 p.m. PST

In my experience not washing figures will not make them sticky.

I bought some painted figures off a guy and they were still tacky years later. I just went ahead and tossed them.

nnascati Supporting Member of TMP18 Jan 2021 8:14 p.m. PST

Nick, gesso should work fine.

gisbygeo18 Jan 2021 9:48 p.m. PST

Rather than Nylon, they are probably PVC, and yes, they will stay sticky with some primers, and some clear coats, too.

Try a thin coat of white acrylic over the sticky, it will often just cover the sticky, and you can paint normally. If not, you haven't lost anything.

acough2001 Supporting Member of TMP19 Jan 2021 9:27 p.m. PST

I have found that letting the figures (54's) soak in a plastic container containing a degreaser/cleaner works exceptionally well. The degreaser is pretty much any household cleaner like Fantastic/409 or even the supermarket house brand. It's cheap enough and effective. After rinsing them, quick go over with a small brush gets into all the nooks and crannies. Later after they dry, I use Model Master Acrylic or Vallejo primer, letting them sit (cure) for 24 hours. Then I just then paint with either Foundry or Vallejo acrylics.

Personal logo Bobgnar Supporting Member of TMP20 Jan 2021 1:33 p.m. PST

I have found a solution to the soft figure painting problem. I run them through a rock polisher with fine grit for 10 minutes. The dries them up and roughens up the surface.

AICUSV23 Jan 2021 7:48 p.m. PST

It s not the figure, but the paint. I've had the same issue with Rust-oleum spray paint on metal and hard plastics. Some after two months were still tacky. I found spraying a clear coat over the piece did away with the tackiness.

Baranovich04 Feb 2021 1:03 p.m. PST

The problem you're having is that the chemical composition of the soft toy plastic is different from the usual harder styrene plastic that models are made of. It's the nature of the slick surface. What Bobgnar says is spot on. If you can somehow "break" that slick surface and give it some roughness, primer adheres 100% better and dries as fast as on styrene plastic.

I do a similar thing when trying to glue like Reaper Bones figures to black plastic bases. I find that if I rough up the bottom of the Reaper Bones plastic base and also the top of the black plastic base with some sand paper that the super glue has something to bite into and a bond is formed much easier and stronger as opposed to trying to glue together two slick surfaces.

Spray primers will bond to soft plastic but it simply doesn't dry as fast. Eventually the tackiness does go away but it can linger for some time.

From what I've read on other forums about painting over soft plastic that's been primed is that you CAN begin painting over the primer even thought it's still sticky and everything in the end will cure and dry.

However I would use caution with that method, seems that the tacky primer layer would become trapped under the paint and unable to fully cure.

I'd personally let primed soft plastic figures dry for up to several weeks before painting them.

Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP09 Feb 2021 9:23 a.m. PST

Years ago, I discovered a type of Patch Attach Glue, which was recommended to be painted onto soft plastic figures (Army Men, and Viking figures, for me). This glue remains permanently tacky. I read that you could paint over it, and the paint applied would eliminate the tackiness. To remove this glue, however, you needed to soak the figure in Vegetable Oil -- it was messy, to say the least.

I did it on a few figures, but I found it to be clumsy, and difficult to handle the figures, after the glue was applied, and 'cured', due to the extremely tacky surface it created. It also seemed to fill in details, which the figures lacked in the first place, so that made it even less useful.

I would suggest getting a can of spray Plasti-Dip, and apply that. Note that a matte clear coat may be required after the Plasti Dip dries. It is a rubber coating, so it should attach to, and seal in, the paint beneath it.

I tried the dipping version, and that went on incredibly thick, and made the figures unusable. The aerosol version should allow you to control the thickness of the application well enough to seal the paint work, without making it too thick.

I also tried Minwax Polyurethane Stain (aka, The Dip Technique), but the polyurethane breaks away from the plastic, after a few years. It is so thin that once it breaks away from the plastic, it tends to tear, and come off, completely, leaving bare plastic exposed. Short term (2+ years), it will work. Cheers!

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